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Len Ziehm On Golf

Conway Farms pro carries Chicago hopes in U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The only Chicago area qualifier for the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club is also the youngest in the 120-player field. Gurnee’s Jamie Fischer, who got in through the sectional qualifying round at Conway Farms, in Lake Forest, turned 50 on May 13.

Fischer grew up in Ohio and qualified for three U.S. Women’s Opens — the first when she was just 18 – and four LPGA Championships. Her mother, Andy Cohn-Fischer, played on the LPGA Tour in the 1960s after her graduation from Northwestern.

“When my mother went to Northwestern they had a girls’ team, but it wasn’t run the way the college teams are today,’’ said Fischer. “The Gleacher Center (the indoor practice facility for NU golf teams now) was a swimming pool back then. My mother had a different experience than the kids have today.’’

Jamie went to Texas on a golf scholarship and was an assistant women’s coach at Northwestern under then-head coach Chris Regenberg for several years before beginning her 11-year stint as director of instruction at Conway Farms.

While she has rarely competed in recent years, Fischer decided to try it after learning the Senior Women’s Open was coming, and it didn’t hurt that a sectional qualifier was at Conway Farms either. She shot 77 to finish third to claim one of the 62 finalists’ berths awarded to sectional qualifiers. Both her parents will be attending the finals.

In addition to the tournament practice days Fischer played Chicago Golf Club twice with members in recent weeks. Her mother played against Senior Women’s Open entrants JoAnne Carner, Hollis Stacey and Pat Bradley during her time on tour and Jamie has two college teammates in the field who also survived sectional qualifiers in Sue Ginter and Lisa DePaolo.

Oldest player in the field is Murle Breer, who is 79. Carner, the only woman to win the U.S. Girls Junior, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open titles, is also 79. Carner will hit the first tee shot off the No. 1 tee at 7 a.m. on Thursday. The field includes players from 12 countries. Ten are 65 or older, and 29 are amateurs.

Bullington, India in JDC

Frankfort’s Brian Bullington and Deerfield’s Vince India survived Monday’s final qualifying round to earn spots in the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. Illinois’ only annual PGA Tour event begins its four-day run at TPC Deere Run in Silvis on Thursday.

JDC qualifying has become a popular affair. An abundance of entrance necessitated two pre-qualifiers being held last week before Monday’s final elimination at Pinnacle Golf Club in Milan. Bullington was low man with an 8-under-par 63 and India tied for second after posting a 65. Both played collegiately at Iowa and have been struggling to get into tournaments on the Web.com Tour this season.

The PGA Tour also announced its 2018-19 schedule on Tuesday and it produced no change for the JDC. It will be held July 8-14 and remain the week before the British Open. As expected, the BMW Championship, which returns to the Chicago area in 2019 — but at Medinah instead of Conway Farms — shifts from September dates to Aug. 12-18 as the second event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Here and there

The U.S. Golf Association will collaborate with the Chicago District Golf Association and Illinois Junior Golf Association on a Play9 Community Day on Saturday at Cantigny’s Youth Links in Wheaton. There’ll be a nine-hole round in the morning and a clinic for the participants at Chicago Golf Club from noon-2 p.m. while the Senior Women’s Open is in progress.

Tournament play won’t stop after the Senior Women’s Open and Constellation Senior Players Championship at Exmoor, in Highland Park, end on Sunday. The 24th Illinois Women’s Open begins its three-day run at Mistwood, in Romeoville, on Monday and the three-day 88th Illinois State Amateur starts the following day at Bloomington Country Club.

The Illinois PGA Senior Masters tournament will be held on Monday at Onwentsia, in Lake Forest. This year’s honorees are Don Habjan, from Makray Memorial in Barrington, and Ron Skubisz, from Pottawatomie in St. Charles.